Over 1,700 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh's famous Pong Dam sanctuary were found dead under mysterious circumstances. The birds, most of them bar-headed geese, have tested positive for bird flu according to officials, making Himachal the fourth state to report cases of the dreaded avian influenza in recent days.
Most of the bird deaths were reported in Jagmoli and Guglada areas of Dhameta and Nagrota Surian forest beats. The authorities have suspended tourism in the area.
The sale and purchase of poultry has also been banned in some parts of the district.
Rakesh Kumar-Prajapati, Kangra's district magistrate, has ordered that no human or livestock be allowed to go in and around one-kilometre radius of the reservoir till further notice. A surveillance zone with radius nine kilometres has also been established around the water body to monitor the incident.
Exercising his powers under Sections 34 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the official said that shops selling these products would also remain closed in these four subdivisions.
Prajapati also banned the movement of locals and tourists within a kilometre radius of Pong Dam.
A few days back, a bird flu alert was sounded in Rajasthan, where over 250 crows were found dead in half a dozen districts. Bird flu cases were also confirmed in dead crows in Indore in Madhya Pradesh.
An outbreak of bird flu was also reported in some parts of Kottayam and Alappuzha districts in Kerala.
Bird flu is a highly infectious and severe respiratory disease in birds caused by the H5N1 influenza virus, which can occasionally infect humans as well.